A late June wildfire in Utah that burned 467 acres and forced the evacuation of over 100 residents from 42 homes has been linked to teens playing with a Roman candle firework that ignited a hillside before spreading in high winds. As the July 4th Independence Day Weekend approaches, we are all reminded that mishandled fireworks pose a great threat to landscapes and communities at risk to wildfire, especially in summer-time dry conditions.
Michele Steinberg, NFPA’s Wildfire Division Director shares that amateurs who set off fireworks caused an estimated 19,500 fires and generated around 9,000 emergency room visits over the entire year in the U.S. in 2018. NFPA’s Brush, Grass and Forest Fires 2018 report also highlights that the Fourth of July was the peak day for wildfires started by fireworks, followed by July 5th. Annually, local fire departments responded to an average of 4,430 brush, grass, and forest fires on July 4th, more than five times the daily average of 840. An average of 2,550 fires on July 5th was three times the daily average.
With public fireworks events around the country being canceled this year due to COVID-19 related restrictions on large gatherings, NFPA is vigorously discouraging individuals’ use of consumer fireworks for both personal safety and fire service response considerations.
Amplifying this message, a joint safety call-to-action released by the American Property Casualty Insurance Association, the Insurance Information Institute, the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety, and NFPA stresses that fireworks pose wildfire risks when they are in the wrong hands.
While the Utah, Traverse Fire, was brought under control early this past week without structural loss, 7,500 homes and businesses lost electricity during the height of the event. Firework use is banned in the area around where the fire ignited due to wildfire landscape risks and Utah restricts the use of legal fireworks in the days around the July 4th holiday and the state’s Pioneer Day at the end of July. Six other wildfires forced evacuations in Utah in late June and the status of those fires are available here.
Learn more about firework safety from these tip sheets, videos, social media cards, and infographic resources. Have a safe July 4th holiday with family and friends and share the safety message with them that mishandled fireworks can become the ember that threatens your home and community.